Evan Larson '02 will take his forest research to Sweden through a Fulbright Grant.Evan Larson '02 will take his forest research to Sweden through a Fulbright Grant.

Larson has already studied forest ecosystems throughout the U.S.Larson has already studied forest ecosystems throughout the U.S.

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Willamette alumnus earns Fulbright Grant to teach and research in Sweden

Willamette University graduate Evan Larson ’02, an assistant professor of geography in the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Department of Social Sciences, has earned a Fulbright Scholar Program award that will take him to Sundsvall, Sweden for teaching and research.

The award, which is for the 2011–12 academic year, is bestowed on scholars for their academic merit and leadership potential. Larson majored in environmental science at Willamette and went on to earn a master’s in geography at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a PhD in geography at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Larson specializes in dendrochronology, the dating of past events and variations in the environment by examining the growth rings of trees; biogeography, the study of geographic distributions of plants and animals and the environmental processes that create them; and forest ecology, the study of interrelationships among forest species.

Larson’s Fulbright project will focus on boreal forest ecosystems — northern forests containing cone-bearing trees like pines and spruces.

He will study how their fundamental dynamics are influenced by habitat fragmentation and the implications of forest structure for conservation in northern Sweden. Larson plans to compare his findings to forests he has already explored in the U.S. Great Lakes region.

His research will contribute new knowledge about the long-term effects of dividing up continuous forests through lumber harvest into separate stands, and it will be relevant to areas around the world where boreal forests are found.

Larson is excited about the Fulbright’s research and teaching opportunities, but he says that the mission of the program is broader than that.

“Scientific disciplines cross cultural borders and offer avenues to increase mutual understanding among distant groups,” he says. “It behooves us to seek out experiences that expand and deepen our understanding of the world so as to be better catalysts for positive global change.”